ELEPHANT STONE – The Seven Seas (Indiecater Records)

If you call your band after a Stone Roses song then some people are going to jump to the conclusion that they are a big influence. Well, jump away, as Elephant Stone obviously worship at the altar of Brown, Squire et al, and make a sound that harks back to the heady days of Madchester and the resurgence of the jangly guitar. The group is the brainchild of Montreal-based multi-instrumentalist Rishi Dhir, who left his powerpop band The High Dials to concentrate on his own music in Elephant Stone. Despite announcing his intention to re-connect with his Indian roots and study the sitar after leaving The High Dials, there is no sign of it on the first few tracks on this album, with ‘Bombs Bomb Away’ and ‘How Long’ being great jangly rockers very much in the style of long forgotten indie pop groups such as The Mock Turtles and The Dylans. Dhir’s voice is perfect for these songs, and his guitar playing is authentic without being overly reverential. ‘I Am Blind’ is another great track, and this trio of openers should warm the hearts of anyone who was a fan of the afore-mentioned bands, plus The Charlatans, Inspiral Carpets, and The Family Cat, and who misses the classic indie pop of the early 90’s. The title track is a quieter affair, but still with a catchy tune, and true to his word Dhir has learnt the sitar and it makes its first appearance on ‘The Straight Line’, where it is used to good effect to create an atmospheric, and slightly chilling, introduction to this Indian flavoured instrumental. After that exotic diversion we are back with the great indie-pop of ‘Blood From A Stone’ and ‘Oh Heartbreaker’, both of which are tuneful, hypnotic, and above all catchy pop songs. The sitar is back for ‘The Morning Song’, but this time it is just there to add an extra element to the song, where is stays in the background until it bursts through for a solo midway through. Kula Shaker springs to mind on hearing this, but with the added bonus of an air of authenticity that Kula Shaker lacked. The album closes with ‘Don’t You Know’, which is the heaviest track on here, and whose thundering drums, swathes of keyboards a la ‘Kashmir’, and faint air of progressive rock all make it a stand-out song. Add to that a great sitar solo slotted in there, and the fact that the song gradually builds up through its seven plus minutes to a fantastic guitar and sitar freakout at the end, and you have the perfect track to end this superb album. If you have ever wondered what The Stone Roses would have sounded like if John Squire had learnt the sitar then the answer is this album. For fans of 90’s indie pop, world music, guitar bands, and just good music in general, Elephant Stone have something for you all.
Bombs Bomb Away
The Straight Line